23 Mar 2022

Lenten Devotional, Day 18, Renegotiating Commitments (episode 78)

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So, I have been feeling overwhelmed lately and struggling with how to get a post and podcast out to you daily. I have stayed true to getting in my sit spot, but the last week was very tough in terms of getting something out without compromising health or other ministry. I had three nights of going to bed after 3 a.m. It was about to where me down. If you have been following this then you know Saturday night , this finally caught up with me and I gave myself grace to come up with a post the next day.

I gave myself grace again last night because I still wasn’t and am not fully recuperated. I was literally falling a sleep at the keyboard and staying up late to finish a post just wasn’t prudent. So, there is an important piece of learning regarding disciplines to be had here. I’ve done numerous stints of spiritual disciplines over the years, and the more something is outside of the box of previous experience, the more you don’t realize what you’re getting into until you dive in and do. Count on renegotiating your commitment and know this – it is okay. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. Learn from it. Adjust. And, continue forward with a sustainable practice.

This renegotiation is far better than what happens to most people. Typically when people realize they bit off more than they can chew, they start skipping. They think, I’ll make it up later. Making it up later though is twice is hard. It usually doesn’t happen. They eventually stall out and feel guilt and shame. Now they not only don’t complete what they hoped to, they take on guilt and shame that makes it to try again. If you have been through this failure and shame breakdown before, it’s okay. No one probably told you how or that you could renegotiate your commitment.

Heads up. I’m renegotiating.

I just want to give you a heads up. I haven’t figured out what my renegotiation looks like yet. I just know I need to make adjustments. In advance, I want to thank you for being patient if I delay the release of a post periodically. It doesn’t mean I have forgotten. Nor does it mean I’m not taking seriously my desire and intention to post daily. My delay means I am trying to balance demanding needs in the healthiest way I now how.

So here is what I am thinking with regard to renegotiating:

  • I will ALWAYS do my sit time.
  • I will strive to get out a post daily
  • BUT if I think doing so is going to compromise my health or my ministry at the church I will give myself permission to forego posting or offer something that is very minimal.

Why would I make these concessions? One of the dangers of doing a discipline is that you can get so legalistically tied to it that you actually start serving the practice rather than God. When the discipline becomes and end in itself rather than a means toward deeper faithfulness and connection, then you’ve gotten lost in legalism. At that point, you are also likely no longer listening to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Speaking of which…

The importance of spiritual discernment while practicing a discipline

I felt distinct guidance in the process of going into this discipline and I did not heed it all. That was a mistake.

First, the moment I decided to take this discipline on I felt an immediate tug to start before Ash Wednesday. I distinctly felt that I needed to get at least two episodes done prior to Lent beginning. Two specifics arose around this inner tug.  1) You’re going to need these episode. There will be crunch times you don’t see coming. Consequently, you need a couple episode on reserve to stay consistent with your audience. 2)  You need a practice run or two to figure out the mechanics of how this is going to work.

I half listened. Meaning, I distinctly felt the need to get at least two sits and posts done ahead of time, BUT despite clearing feeling that need I only made time to get one done. Lo and behold, guess what happened? Things came up and I really needed those extra episodes and had to skip days.

Also, I clearly felt and stated the need to evaluate the practice on a weekly basis and release that reflection to you all. If I had taken that pause last week (which I didn’t), there is a good chance I would have recognized the need for adjustments then.

In retrospect, I can see where I distinctly had been given direction on how to handle proactively not wind up where I am now, but I only half followed directions. Learn from my experience. Pay close attention and be obedient to the intuitions and nudges that pop up in your planning process. Take time to pause and reflect on your discipline, so that you can monitor and adjust to stay true to the intention behind the discipline.

Update from my backyard

I feel I would be a bit remiss if I didn’t share with you quickly the beautiful things emerging in my backyard

Today, I spotted the first buds on our tulip tree. This is usually the first tree to leaf out. Dozens of tiny shoots of hosta plants are emerging around the base of that tree. A pair of house finches have nearly finished a nest above an exterior light on our garage. I’m excited to see that. And lastly, my wife and I planted two peach trees in honor of our wedding anniversary last fall and they have made it through the winter. They are showing off their first blooms. Yay!  So spring is springing here.

Questions: What in your life feels like it is getting off track? What priorities are at stake? How can you renegotiate or give yourself permission to push pause?

A Collect for Renegotiation
Holy God, who makes all things new, help us to see when we are trapped in legalism and losing sight of the spirit of what you call us to do, so that we do not make an idol of our work, but adapt it in a manner faithful to you, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.




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